Secondary data consist of information that is obtained from existing records of past data collection or from an outside source. This is in contrast with primary data, which are collected for the specific project at hand. Secondary data may be obtained internally from a company’s existing records or through external sources. Internal sources in the hospitality industry may include resources such as guest registration records, point of sale systems, internal financial reports, forecasting and budgeting reports, and hotel management’s daily reports. Secondary data can be classified as being either internal or external depending on the source of the information. This designation refers to the existence of data within an organization or outside of it.
External sources of secondary data are numerous and diverse. Examples of external secondary data sources are the Internet, publications, government reports, public records, such as competitors’ annual reports and 10 K reports; demographic records collected national, state, or local government agencies; information available through the media, such as newspapers, magazines, or television/radio broadcasts; and data purchased through information gathering services and consulting firms.
Internal secondary data might include information such as sales reports for a catering department, the daily audit report for a hotel, or corporate ticket purchases for a travel agency. Generally, internal data are easier to validate and obtain than external data, but both must be reviewed once discovered to ensure that the information is accurate and applicable to the research being conducted. Since secondary data are not sought or gathered for the research project at hand, it is important for the researcher to scrutinize the information carefully and sometimes either disregard portions of it or its entirety. Some considerations to be made when obtaining secondary data are its accessibility, applicability, cost, validity, and its format in relation to the format of primary data.
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